Monday, May 19, 2008

Duke’s Lax Cancellation: What Safety Concerns? (Post 3)

Two posts - Duke's Lax '06 Cancellation: What Safety Concerns? and Duke's Lax '06 Cancellation: What Safety Concerns? (Post 2) - have questioned whether, as reported in a recent N. Y. Times story, concerns for its student-athletes safety was a factor in Duke University President Richard Brodhead’s decision, announced Apr. 5, 2006, to cancel the remainder of Duke’s Men’s lacrosse season.

At the time the lacrosse players were targets of vicious and what proved to be false charges by local and national media, many Duke faculty, and some community activists and leaders of “rights groups” that three players had committed brutal crimes including gang rape which the rest of the team was helping cover up.

While researching Brodhead’s decision to cancel the season, I’ve read the statement he released Apr. 5 announcing the cancellation and athletic director Joe Alleva’s statement of the same day endorsing it.

The statements are very brief. I want to share them with you, then comment below the star line.

Brodhead’s statement - - -

The court released today a previously sealed warrant, whose contents are sickening and repulsive.

I have canceled the men’s lacrosse season and all associated activities, effective immediately. Lacrosse Coach Mike Pressler has submitted his resignation to Athletics Director Joe Alleva, effective immediately.

Typically, we are prohibited under federal privacy regulations from releasing information regarding individual student disciplinary matters. In this case, the student named in the warrant has signed a release and given us permission to say that he has received an interim suspension. As a result of the interim suspension, the student is no longer on campus.

I once again urge anyone with information pertinent to the events of March 13 to cooperate with the authorities.

Alleva’s statement - - -

Duke Director of Athletics Joe Alleva announced Wednesday that Mike Pressler has resigned as men’s lacrosse coach, effective immediately.

“Coach Pressler offered me his resignation earlier this afternoon, and I accepted it,” said Alleva. “I fully support President Brodhead’s decision to cancel the remainder of the season as well as his outrage at the latest developments involving the men’s lacrosse program. I believe this is in the best interests of the program, the department of athletics and the university.”

Pressler spent 16 seasons at Duke, compiling a 153-82 record with three ACC championships, 10 NCAA Tournament berths and an appearance in the 2005 national championship game. A three-time ACC Coach of the Year and the 2005 USILA National Coach of the Year, Pressler’s overall head coaching ledger stands at 229-102 in 22 seasons.



I view Alleva’s statement as a “go along” to save his job. I’ll say nothing more about it in this post other than to note Alleva made no effort to say anything that might have mitigated the dangers the players were facing.

As for Brodhead’s statement, you can see he makes no mention of student safety.

The statement is constructed to leave no doubt in the public’s mind that Duke was responding to the McFadyen email. Thus Brodhead begins:

The court released today a previously sealed warrant, whose contents are sickening and repulsive.
which he follows immediately with:
I have canceled the men’s lacrosse season and all associated activities, effective immediately.
Brodhead then informs the public Duke’s suspended McFadyen and he’s “no longer on campus.”

When Brodhead made his statement McFadyen hadn't signed a waiver. Duke subsequently said Brodhead’s error was the result of a misunderstanding.

Whatever the case, Brodhead’s claim that Duke had a waiver allowed him to further hammer home to the public how seriously he took the email: McFadyen's suspended, coach Pressler's fired and the remainder of the season's cancelled "effective immediately."

I’ll research some more, but I doubt I’ll find anything from the period Apr. 5 to Apr. 7, 2006 indicating concern for the student’s safety was a factor in President Brodhead’s decision to cancel the remainder of the lacrosse season.

If you do, please let me know.


Anonymous said...


Before the team's games were cancelled there had been various calls for the players to be suspended or the season to be suspended. I'll have to look up who said what when, however IIRC there may have been mention in Ruth's Team Silence is Sickening column in March,and perhaps inHouston Baker screed, and probably in the meeting Brodhead had with faculty before 4/5/06. I don't believe any of those suggestions was based on the LAX players safety. There were also calls around that time for all Duke sports to be removed from D1 and for the money from athletics to go to other departments and to scholarships for minorities instead. That was not for the LAX team's safety either.

Anonymous said...

check this site out

Students question Yale's safety and tolerance.

Anonymous said...

to: 9:01 AM

Your URL should end with:


The final 8 is missing from your posting.

Anonymous said...

On March, 28 2006 Brodhead announced the suspension of lacrosse games pending clearer resolution of the legal situation . Below is the key excerpt from his statement which, like all of Duke's related statements, never expressed concerns for the players' safety.

" Let me explain my own thinking about the suspension of play. Physical coercion and sexual assault are unacceptable in any setting and will not be tolerated at Duke. As none of us would choose to be the object of such conduct, so none of us has the right to subject another person to such behavior. Since they run counter to such fundamental values, the claims against our players, if verified, will warrant very serious penalties, both from the university and the courts."

This inflammatory and prejudicial statement , together with Duke's other statements and actions, clearly gave the impression that Duke believed that the players were guilty of serious crimes.

Anonymous said...

March 28,2006 News and Observer story has Mayor Bell asking for the entire remaining Duke Lacrosse season cancelled. That was a week before it was cancelled.


Durham Mayor Bill Bell, who spoke with Brodhead by phone Sunday, said in a telephone interview Monday that he realizes that officials are dealing with allegations and that police have not completed their investigation. Still, he said, "I'm concerned about the code of silence that continues to prevail."

While lauding athletics officials for forfeiting two lacrosse games, Bell urged them to go further. "I think it would send a strong message to the community if they canceled the whole season."--snip"

Anonymous said...

Here is part of Houston Bakers 3/29/06 letter calling for the dismissal of the Lax team. He mentioned safety, however it was for the safety of the non Duke lacrosse players in his opinion.

3/29/06 letter from Houston Baker


How soon will confidence be restored to our university as a place where minds, souls, and bodies can feel safe from agents, perpetrators, and abettors of white privilege, irresponsibility, debauchery and violence?

Surely the answer to the question must come in the form of immediate dismissals of those principally responsible for the horrors of this spring moment at Duke. Coaches of the lacrosse team, the team itself and its players, and any other agents who silenced or lied about the real nature of events at 610 Buchanan on the evening of March 13, 2006.

Anonymous said...

Ruth Sheehan's Silence is Sickening column of 3/27/06 wanted atleast forfeited games.


Every member of the men's lacrosse team knows who was involved, whether it was gang rape or not.

Until the team members come forward with that information, forfeiting games isn't enough.

Anonymous said...

Brodhead's, Bell's and Sheehan's statements/writings all either state or imply ( falsely ) that the lacrosse players were not cooperating with the police. These individuals all knew that the captains had given extensive statements to the police on March 16, provided DNA samples and offered to take lie detector tests. All of the lacrosse players willingly provided DNA samples and other information to the police on March 23.

These patently false accusations from individuals in responsible positions that the players were not cooperating helped prejudice the case against the players and contributed to the " lynch mob " atmosphere on and around campus.

The consistency among these statements provides support to the allegations in the Ekstrand lawsuit that Durham authorities and Duke officials conspired to frame the lacrosse players.


Anonymous said...


How long did it take Duke to remove the team photos from the Duke lacrosse website after partent requested them to remove it for the safety of their sons?

IIRC it took quite a while.

Anonymous said...

The lacrosse parents met with certain Duke officials, including Dean Sue, Larry Moneta and Tallman Trask on Sat. March 25. The parents specifically asked that the players' photos be removed from Duke's website immediately. The parents were concerned for their sons' safety and also feared that Crystal might study publicly available photos to falsely identify lacrosse players from a photo line-up.

While Moneta promised to have the photos removed that day, Duke inexplicably waited until, I believe, Monday, March 27 to remove the photos. This allowed time for activists to download the players' pictures and post them on websites devoted to attacks on the players. Duke's delay also allowed the photos of 43 players to be downloaded and used on the "Vigilante posters" that were widely distributed around campus a few days later.


Anonymous said...

This was, after all, the same This is from KC Johnson's blog 5/20/08:

Larry Moneta who—when the case first broke—dismissed attorney Samantha Ekstrand’s request that the administration protect the lacrosse players against the local mob and against Duke professors intent on retaliation. Why no concern with the lacrosse players? As Moneta told Ekstrand, “Frankly, Samantha, I don’t believe them.”

Anonymous said...


IIRC much later it was stated that Ryan had been sent away from Duke campus "for his safety". I always wondered why he wasn't given a leave of absense if he was it was truly about his safety and not about his unjust punishment. Your post clears that up.